“You have a tall task — on two fronts.”
Those were the words my friend and consigliere Jeff Lefevere (who has got to be the most talented blogger currently not blogging) had for me when I asked him for advice in interviewing movie icon Francis Ford Coppola about his Sonoma wine endeavors.
“Coppola is near icon, and has been oft-interviewed,” Jeff pointed out, before quickly adding, “More importantly, how do you talk a little wine without coming off sounding like a shill who is reading from the press release?”
That last part is something that plagues writers covering any area. Even if you pull out all of the stops and interviewing chops, some people will simply give you charming marketing spiel, the equivalent of the stuff you could get from their website About pages only in certified from-the-horse’s-mouth quotation form.
So for my Wined Down / Playboy.com interview with Coppola, I decided to take Jeff’s advice and try to get inside of Coppola’s head a little bit, even going so far as to link our conversation back to a PB interview that he did around forty years ago (for more on that one, see Playboy’s 50 Years of the Playboy Interview collection). I suppose it worked to some extent, since in the course of it he reveals that he’s working on a new screenplay, and even the publicists on his side didn’t know about that. More likely I just got lucky.
Anyway… we talk wine, of course, focusing on his work in Sonoma (look, Coppola’s Rubicon/Inglenook stuff is an awesome story line, but as Jeff insightfully pointed out, it’s been oft-told), his love of Bordeaux, how he looks back on previous interviews and the iconic characters that he’s created, and whether or not he was trying to tell the wine cognoscenti to f*ck off by moving his movie memorabilia and shop out of Napa.
Okay, this is the part where you head over to PB and check it out!